Understanding of erosion and mass movement processes in periglacial landscapes under a warming climate

Supervisor: Dr. Moritz Langer (AWI)

Project Outline:

Climate change leads to thawing of permafrost soils in the Arctic. This has severe impacts on the ecosystem equilibrium and results in further release of greenhouse gases that reinforce global warming. In addition, the thawing of permafrost causes the ground to subside, posing a risk for the local infrastructure and the provision for the population. Despite their importance, current land surface models often neglect these erosion processes.

Within my PhD I therefore work on the parameterization of these processes for the land surface model CryoGrid. My work focuses on thermokarst lakes, which result from the thawing of ice-rich permafrost soils in polygonal tundra. Using high resolution remote sensing data (satellite and UAV borne) and complementary field measurements I quantify erosion rates, detect spatial patterns and identify driving factors by developing a fully-automated and open-source workflow. The workflow is independent of scale, image spatial resolution, and waterbody geometry.